7 Things You Never Knew About Casinos

Americans love gambling. We spend billions of dollars every year at land-based casinos, from the high desert of Las Vegas to the riverboat casinos of the Mississippi Delta. Forty US states are home to at least one casino. Even conservative Texas has a casino within its borders.

The casino business has been booming for nearly 100 years. From its early days as a frontier distraction to the multi-billion dollar mega-businesses of today, casino gambling has enthralled Americans as long as it’s been available. But I bet you didn’t know all these cool facts about the casino business.

Read on for a fascinating look at how the betting industry really works.

1. Casinos lose money all the time
Sure, most players end up losing money. But you have to figure high cost of the property, staff, and complimentary items keep casinos from beating everyone. Of course those patrons who play very little or are accompanying real players make up a large portion of this group, but there are many players that are actually able to win over a long period of time. This group includes blackjack card counters, but the largest percentage is comprised of players who gamble just enough to qualify for freebies and complimentary giveaways like free rooms and meals.

2. They love winners
You might assume that the casino isn’t happy when someone cashes in a big jackpot. But that’s far from the truth. Think about it – do you want to play at a casino that never pays out big winnings or a casino that regularly advertises big prizes? Big wins are good for business, so don’t be surprised to see a bunch of smiles and glad-handing when the supervisor hands you a big progressive prize.

3. Card-counters are welcome … in Atlantic City
If you’re an advantage gambler of any type, you run the risk of getting kicked out of a casino in Las Vegas or most other parts of the country. Most casinos reserve the right to kick out anyone they suspect is counting cards or using other advantage techniques. But if you’re a card-counter and you want to use your skill freely, there is one place you’re welcome. Atlantic City is explicitly open to blackjack card-counters and other advantage bettors. How do they do it? They’ve adapted. For example, the rules for blackjack are altered to account for the impact of card counting tactics.

4. Think you’ve been ripped off? There’s an agency for that
Every legal casino in America is run by a regulatory agency. If you think you’ve been cheated, you can contact Gaming Control (or whatever agency runs the show where you were playing) and lodge a formal complaint. Just don’t use this service to whine about cold food or a broken elevator. Those particular complaints should be made to the casino’s manager, not to a government body meant to curtail casino cheating.

5. If you win big, you can ask for a check instead of cash or chips
This one surprised me – I’ve never seen it done before, and I’ve been in casinos plenty of times. Apparently, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a check if you have a decent-sized win. Basically, any hand-pay you get in Vegas or AC can be turned into a check, so long as you ask nicely and do it before you get your cash or chip pay-out. You can even get a combination pay-out, part in a check, part in cash, and part in chips. Remember – your casino is basically a service economy with you as its target. If you play a lot and talk sweetly to the employees, you can get pretty much whatever you want, within reason.

6. You need a current and valid photo ID on you pretty much at all times
Though some US casinos allow players in at age 18 (particularly in Alaska), the gambling age in pretty much every other US state is 21. To enforce that, the casino demands that all players have a valid photo ID on them at all time while on the floor. Don’t even try the old “Oops, I left my ID up in my room” trick. The casino can (and will) ask you to leave if you don’t have your ID on you.

7. Casinos have strict etiquette rules – including language restrictions
Contrary to the stereotype of the casino as a den of iniquity, gambling halls actually have pretty lengthy lists of rules and proper etiquette that you must follow. The quickest way to get a nasty look from your dealer or even a warning from the pit is to open your mouth and let one of those famous “four-letter words” slip out. My advice – act like you’re playing craps with your grandmother. You’ll be better off, and the other bettors around you will appreciate your kindness.

Racing Awards, Medals and Customized Gear for Runners

Running, whether it be a 5k with the family, a 10k for an extra challenge, or a marathon for the elite runners, can be a very exciting and memorable experience. Running is a very personal sport to lots of people, as it can be great exercise and can make you look and feel very refreshed. Tons of awards are given out to winners at races each year. For people organizing these racing events, finding customized and personal running gear can be difficult, as well as finding unique prizes for running champions. When orchestrating a race, you want to have a memorable competition. Medals and unique prizes can help to make the race more exciting. Participants can keep prizes as souvenirs, and remember the experience better because of a keepsake.
The most important souvenir a competitor can take home is a winning medal. Those are worn with pride, and showed to family members and friends. They are often hung on walls, or shown off where they can be seen. Of course, medals need to be personalized, unique, and specific. You cannot award a running champion with a medal that doesn’t recognize what it’s for. It is often a perfect idea to find a company that will provide you with customized prizes for winners. Often, you can ask for customized medals that include the date, the name of the race, and the name of the company sponsoring and orchestrating the event. That way, when people proudly show their winning medal to others, the people who made the event happen will receive the credit and publicity they deserve.

In addition to medals, running apparel and gear can be a great way to make the race more memorable. Unlike medals, gear is commonly worn and would be used often. Passing out swag, such as customized shirts, jackets, hats, and bags can be a great way to add to the excitement of the race. Races with their own gear are viewed as more unique, as they have customized logos and attractive designs. Shirts can be given out to families, and jackets can be sold at the finish line. Hats can be passed out before the race to keep the sun out of the athlete’s eyes. And, of course, bags can be kept forever and used for multiple occasions. Having the name and date of your race on these items can help to increase publicity and help the runners remember what a successful and memorable race it was. Customizing these mementos can help to define a great race, and will definitely help a race to be more exciting and enjoyable.

Why I Love American Roulette

I bet you won’t agree with me when I say this – I love American roulette.

When I go on a casino trip, I head immediately for double-zero roulette games.

I’ve long been a defender of this casino classic.

After all, I’m an American.

So what is it about double-zero roulette that gets me excited?

First – an explanation of the main difference between American and European game rules.

American vs. European Roulette
The most important difference between American and European rules roulette is the number of spaces in the wheel where the ball might land. American wheels have 38 slots (1-36 plus one green zero and one green double-zero space) and European wheels have 37 slots (1-36 plus one green zero space).

The impact this extra space has on the American game’s odds is pretty significant. All wagers on American roulette games have a 5.26% house edge – while all wagers on single-zero games have a 2.7% house edge. The house edge on the American game is almost double that for single-zero or European tables.

But wait – I haven’t told you the whole story yet. True European roulette games include a special rule that reduces the house’s edge even more in certain game situations. At Euro tables, if the ball lands in the green zero space, bettors get half their wager back. With that rule in place, all even-money bets have a house edge of just 1.3%. Those are excellent odds by anyone’s definition, right?

So why do I love American roulette so much?

It’s Accessible
Only seven Las Vegas casinos host a single-zero roulette game. The Palazzo and the Venetian are the only two that host true American rules roulette – the other five have one European rules table each.

If you don’t do your gambling in Las Vegas, rest assured that your Euro game options are limited, too. The few Atlantic City casinos still in business aren’t eager to hand out money with low-odds games taking up floor space – I don’t know a single AC casino offering single-zero tables outside of a VIP room. You won’t find any single-zero tables in any property in Mississippi or Louisiana that’s run by one of the major operators like Harrah’s. Basically, if you’re in America, American rules games are by far the most common and the most budget-friendly. You may not even have the option of playing single-zero games, especially if you aren’t a high roller.

It’s Familiar
Because I’ve lived my entire life in the United States, I’ve only ever really known or played the single-zero game. I remember getting a casino play-set when I was a kid (with playing cards, a plastic roulette wheel, a ball bearing, some poker chips, and a set of dice), and sure enough, that game’s wheel was set up in imitation of good old USA rules.

I admit – the rules of European roulette are a lot better for the player. The “en prison” rule (the one that will pay you back half your even-money wager on a zero result) is so popular that a few casinos in America adapted it for use on double-zero wheels. Unfortunately, that game never caught on, probably because it cut the house’s edge from 5.26% to 2.63%. I also appreciate that the stupid “five numbers” bet isn’t available on single zero tables – I think that’s a terrible move by the casino to cheat ignorant people out of their money, and I wish it wasn’t available in American games.

But it all comes down to familiarity, for me. When I play the game, I expect a wheel with two green zero spaces. I don’t expect to get half my wager back thanks to “imprisonment rules.” I grew up risking way more of money than you can risk on European tables, and it’s just not familiar to me.

It’s Affordable
If single-zero roulette offers way better odds, why shouldn’t I just stick to those seven casinos when I visit Vegas? Because the vast majority of those single-zero games are in the VIP rooms, with $100 bet minimums. The most affordable single-zero games in town are at the Mirage, and the MGM Grand, where you can play on a single-zero table for a $25 minimum bet.

Most of the American-style roulette games in Las Vegas allow me to bet $5 or $10 per spin. Basically, I can’t afford to play singe-zero roulette. I’m used to seeing about one outcome per minute at a full Las Vegas table – if I wanted to step up to the VIP games, I’d be betting my mortgage four times over each hour. That’s not the kind of action that I (or my wife) can live with. Heck, it’s expensive enough at $600 an hour.

Atlantic City casinos hosted single-zero games years before Las Vegas did – at a time when Atlantic City gambling houses were playgrounds for the well-to-do. In America, European-anything is code for elite and uppity, and that seems to be the case with this European import. Though I consider myself an intellectual, someone able to overcome the trappings of his cultural heritage, I still can’t help but see the double-zero game as comfortable and familiar.

Conclusion
How little do casinos want Americans to play on single-zero wheels? It’s common for online casinos to restrict bets on Euro roulette from counting towards bonus requirements or loyalty points. The tables are practically gone from US casino floors. When you can find them, they’re restricted by high betting minimums or by requiring special permission to enter the VIP room where the games are kept. For all those reasons, I much prefer to play American-rules roulette games. I’m hoping that, after reading this, a few of you will feel the same way, and give the game a second chance.